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Chapter 19

There were no monsters in the immediate area, so Dungeon Diving was actually a bit boring. The dungeon gave off the impression of a tomb. The walls were made up like an underground catacomb. It was dank and dark, but with White Mage job equipped, I could stave off the oppressive atmosphere. I cast Refresh on myself, and a blue light surrounded me, and I felt much better.

“What did you cast?” the female in the group asked.

“Ah… it’s a Refresh spell?”

“Please, cast it on me as well!”

Ah… well, it was fine. Using my abilities helped my job level up. Each job seemed to have different conditions, but I was confident that just using the spells was enough to gain experience in the job. If I used the ability to kill a monster, that probably netted the most experience. However, I was a support class, and I wouldn’t be able to level even if I could only depend on defeating monsters. Thus, my leveling came from supporting others. In this case, that meant casting spells to help them.

“Refresh!” I said, just to give her an appropriate warning for the rush of cool magic.

She let out a breath and then smiled. “That’s really a useful spell. I feel knots coming undone. In combination with a massage, this would be very pleasurable. Perhaps you’d be willing to later?”

I blushed a bit under her look as she smiled at me. The men nearby could drop their mouths open. The one female adventurer in the group was flirting with the support. Their thoughts apparently were on how wonderful Refresh was. Before long, I had to cast Refresh on everyone. By the end, I didn’t level up. It seemed like the difficulty of leveling up rose exponentially. Casting only once was enough to reach level 2 from level 1, but I was at level 4 now, and I still didn’t reach 5.

We ended up frequently stopping, as one adventurer had been assigned the task of drawing out the labyrinth. I didn’t know what metrics he used, but his map looked pretty accurate. During the break, I walked up to the guild leader, whom I had already grown used to approaching for information.

“You mentioned something about lore before,” I spoke up while we were waiting to move forward. “What is lore?”

The guild leader raised an eyebrow, but then let out a chuckle. “Ah… you really are unfamiliar with the way of things. Our world is a world of stories. There are thousands of legends… and every person has the potential to create their own lore.”

So, the lore was something literal? We’re actually talking about stories here?

“If lore is bad, filled with negative emotion, and most of all, incomplete… it can often begin to fester. At that point, lore becomes a curse, and it embeds itself into the earth. Do you understand?”

“Not particularly…” I smiled apologetically.

“Ah… it’s like this… say someone dies, but it’s a particularly nasty death. They die in a way where they left with much regret.”

“You mean… like a vengeful spirit?”

The guild leader nodded excitedly. “Exactly. Vengeful spirits can come of that. But let’s imagine if it’s something more significant. A lot of bitter emotions from a very mighty person. Maybe a hero’s death. Or perhaps an event that affects a lot of people, like a battle or an epidemic. This grows into something far more substantial and more threatening than a single spirit. It embeds itself into the ground and festers, spreading a curse. The dungeon is then formed as a manifestation of that curse.”

“Our job is to work our way to the bottom of the dungeon, where the lore has crystalized into a core. Some people call it a dungeon core… but it’s actually the source of the lore. Once we destroy it, the curse will die, and the dungeon will shrivel up and collapse.”

“So, it’s something like that…” To think, an incomplete story could end up creating something so dark and moody.

What was this dungeon story? When I entered the dungeon, it did mention destroying the lore. That just meant destroying the dungeon core. However, what was the other option about?

“What does it mean by completing the lore and becoming a true dungeon diver?”

The guild leader missed a step and tripped, barely catching himself. He shot me a suspicious look.

“You don’t know of lore, but you know of true dungeon divers?”

I chuckled uncomfortably, scratching the back of my head. “It’s just something I heard somewhere and put the two together.”

The guild leader nodded after a second, not continuing the questions. “Well, to keep it simple, there is a second way to complete a dungeon. For that, you must learn why a dungeon was created, and then do something to ease its burden. It’s a hundred times harder to accomplish, and no one even tries it anymore, but the supposed benefits are also many times better.”

Ah… well, I had no intention of completing this dungeon in either way, so I’d just leave it at that.

Chapter 20

We continued on for most of the first day.  Most of the 1st level was mapped out, and we were standing at the stairway to the next level. I had to heal a few people, but compared to the mob that had attacked the town, this was pretty light. If this was because most of the zombies were in the deeper floors or because the party before us had cleared them out, I didn’t know.

Despite all of that, I hadn’t leveled just yet. Yeah, leveling quickly became more expensive. By the time I reached level ten, I could imagine it taking months to level. By the time I’m level twenty, possibly years. I asked around, and most people had their job levels around twenty to thirty. Apparently, people couldn’t change their jobs either. That was one of the actions of a priest. That meant my job swapping ability must have been an exceptional result of my abnormal entrance into this world. Or maybe it was a particular part of the support class. I didn’t know.

“This level wasn’t too bad.” The guild leader spoke to the party. “The undead are stronger at night. Let’s head back to the camp and rest. Now that we know the way, we’ll be able to take the second floor tomorrow without too much issue.”

“What about the other party?” One of the men asked, licking his lips.

“I haven’t seen any indication they entered. It’s possible that the guy was all talk and fled the moment he saw the entrance.” The guild leader said.

This caused a couple of chuckles. In truth, the undead atmosphere put a bit of pressure down on the group and was starting to wear the adventurers down. As a White Mage, I seemed to be able to push it off. The men all asked for another Refresh, which appeared to have a positive effect on the mental pressure they were receiving. With that done, we headed back to the entrance to take a break for the night. Of everyone present, I was probably in the best shape. I hadn’t once been in the front lines, and only had to cast spells. I was a bit sleepy, but Refresh could stave that off for a bit.

No one was upset by this. I had healed two curses so far, and my reputation among the other six was soaring. They all remarked that it was actually quite nice having a healer along. Even things you don’t think about like sore muscles and rashes can be cured with a heal spell, and I wasn’t in the least bit stingy in helping the men along. Their comfort was my survival. At least, that’s how I saw it.

We reached the entrance and headed out towards the camp. Immediately, something seemed off. First of all, the two men that were left behind were not present. Secondly, the fire had been allowed to die. The guild leader held up his hand to stall everyone at the entrance to the dungeon. He walked forward, approaching the fire that was only smoldering. If he wasn’t holding a lantern, I wouldn’t have been able to see him through the thick smog and oppressive darkness.

He kneeled down and picked up some of the cooled ash in his fingers, looking at it. I didn’t know if it was some kind of scouting technique, but it gave me some confidence in his leadership, and I relaxed a bit. Then there was a crack, and our eyes instantly shot to the darkness just outside his lantern light. Shapes were moving, and more and more of them were appearing by the second.

The Guild leader stood up as he eyed the darkness and then pulled his sword. “It’s a trap! Back into the dungeon!”

As he spoke, a couple hundred zombies and skeletons broke into the light, flooding towards the guild leader. This was a tad bigger than the army that had attacked the town the previous night, except there was no wall, there were a 1/3 the number of adventurers, and they were all coming at once. He drew his massive sword and with a single swing knocked a few away before backing up strategically into the dungeon. Everyone was backing up and drawing swords. It was clear the night would be long and difficult.

Chapter 21

It was dark, and I kept getting pushed back. A guy eventually grabbed me and pulled me behind him.

“Watch out, we’ll need you after!”

We were continuously being forced back by the monsters, but since we had retreated into the dungeon, it was no longer dangerous. Two men could hold against a hundred in these narrow hallways. When one of the men was hurt, he was pulled back, and another man appeared. I offered to heal them, but they declined until they reached someplace safer, so I held off my spells.

“Mmmmmmm…” A moan came from behind us, and I turned to see a group of zombies coming.

They had been waiting at an intersection, and only came forward now. It was clear the zombies were being guided by some force. They seemed to react very aggressively to our presence and even planned a trap. Just like the previous attack on the city, this was all prepared. I understood how the last party had died despite being careful. We had already lost some men who were on guard. I could only hope that they could be resurrected.

Realizing I’d have to fight if I wanted to live, I lifted my hand and cast the heal spell. I breathed in relief when I saw the white glow around the zombie nearly ten feet away. I had worried about the range, but if the White Mage were supposed to engage in combat, then range really was vital to them. How could they heal teammates in the middle of combat unless healing had some range to it? Thus, I was able to target my enemy. It howled and shot me a look of anger, moving even faster than before.

I panicked and then cast the spell again. This time, the monster collapsed to the ground, and then it started melting like the one I had killed once before. I cast a spell on the next closest zombie. At my current level, I could handle about ten spells without resting. I didn’t feel like I had any time to spare. With sweaty adventurers pushing at my front and zombies at my back, I needed to go all out.

A second zombie fell, and then a third. It seemed to take two spells for monsters on this level. The next monster was a skeleton. I had never defeated a skeleton before, but they looked more dangerous than zombies. Usually, the faster adventurers took on the skeletons, who moved more quickly than the zombies. I hit the skeleton with heal. He kept coming. I healed him again. He was now within range to strike me. I cast one last time desperately. At that point he collapsed into a pile of bones, his rusty sword clanging on the floor.

{White Mage has increased to level 5.}

{You have unlocked the White Mage skill: Group Heal.}

The bones melted away, and in their place was a perfect pile of powder. Instinctively, I reached down and picked up the pile of bone powder.

{You have collected a monster ingredient. You have unlocked the job: Alchemist.}

A new job and a level? This would have been a joyous occasion if it was not such a desperate situation. Without thinking, I immediately began to cast Group Heal. And then I continued to cast it. My hand started to glow white, and I realized that this one had a distinctly longer casting time. Meanwhile, the zombies from behind were closing in on us.

“They’re behind us too!” Someone finally shouted.

“I’ve been holding them off!” I finally spoke up. “Give me a few moments!”

Two of the closest men got in front of me, blocking the zombies, and I instantly felt better. The spell in total took ten seconds to cast. I didn’t specify in my mind who to target. I aimed for everyone. The spell exploded and a wave a white light flashed through the room. It went out about fifteen meters in both directions. Instantly, all of the zombies and skeletons howled, while the men felt most of their superficial wounds heal. A desperate situation suddenly seemed a bit less desperate.

As for me, the Group Heal hit me harder than I expected. I felt really dizzy and almost fell. We weren’t out of things just yet.

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